Salon Magazine has an article on author Salman Rushdie, who 22 years ago was the subject of a Muslim fatwa for writing uncomplimentary things about Mohammed in his book The Satanic Verses. While the article’s headline focuses on Rushdie’s current situation with regard to the fatwa (he notes that it’s been ten years since there was “any real security issue”), most of the article is actually taken up by discussing Rushdie’s participation in the Booktrack e-book soundtrack program.
Rushdie attended a dinner sponsored by Booktrack to commemorate publishing a Booktrack-enhanced Rushdie short story, “In the South”. He gave a reading at this dinner with Booktrack’s music in the background.
In an interview, Rushdie indicated that he “had to be convinced that this was a good thing” (mainly by his younger son, who said “It’s super cool, dad,”) but discovered he rather liked the effect once he actually heard it.
Rushdie explains that he was offered several chances to weigh in on the music as it was composed, but largely kept out of the creative process, since he found nothing objectionable in the draft material he was sent. “I just liked it. The composer was over in New Zealand, and he would email me clips of the music, and ask me what I thought — so I guess if I thought that something was really wrong, I could have said so. But as it happens, I didn’t think that. He was very generous; he was totally up for me saying whatever I wanted to say.”
“What I didn’t want it to sound like too much was special effects. I didn’t want it to sound like too literal a soundtrack — you know, with bangs and crashes in the right places.”
While I still have my doubts that reading really needs a soundtrack, Booktrack’s willingness to work with Rushdie and make sure he fully approved of its treatment of his work certainly shows its heart is in the right place.